Malawian soldiers violate Mozambican territory

Maputo – A group of soldiers of the Malawian frontier guard last Thursday invaded a camp of Mozambican fishermen on Lake Chiuta, in Mecanhelas district, in the northern province of Niassa. The Niassa provincial police commander, Aquilasse Kapangula, told a press conference in the provincial capital, Lichinga, on Monday, that the intention of the Malawians was to force the Mozambicans to abandon their camp.

However, after a few shots had been fired in the air, the Malawians withdrew, using a Malawian boat to reach the Malawian shore of the lake. The shots were fired from a position of the Mozambican frontier guard near the fishermen’s camp in order to neutralise the invaders. The Malawian soldiers justified their action on the grounds that they were pursuing fishermen who had violated Malawian waters.

They said the Mozambicans were fishing illegally on the Malawian side and were using nets of a fine mesh that are damaging to the environment – probably mosquito nets, and the use of mosquito nets for fishing is banned in both Mozambique and Malawi. “On Friday, the day after the incident , we went to Malawi and met with the local police authorities, and we concluded that the Malawians did indeed violate our territory,” said Kapangula.

“But also on our side we reached the conclusion that there are colleagues of ours in the lake and river protection force who have collaborated with the fishermen in the use of inappropriate nets,” he said. “The first measure we took was to transfer the six men of this force while we are investigating the situation.”

The eastern shore of Lake Chiuta is in Mozambique, while the western shore is in Malawi, and the frontier between the two countries runs down the middle of the lake. Meanwhile, the Mozambican police on Tuesday admitted that four people died on Monday morning, when police opened fire on rioters in the town of Mandimba, in the northern province of Niassa. According to the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, speaking at his weekly press briefing in Maputo, the police did not intend to kill the rioters, but were obliged to open fire to prevent them from attacking the district police command and seizing the firearms stored there.

His statements contradict those of the Niassa Provincial Police command, which initially claimed that no-one had died. In addition to the deaths, seven of the demonstrators were injured, four of them seriously. The angry crowd set fire to the house of the district police commander, and in the clashes two police cars, seven motor-cycles and 12 bicycles were destroyed. Dina said the police were faced with a crowd armed with stones, knives and similar weapons. He described the shots that killed the four demonstrators as “stray bullets”.

The demonstration was “illegal”, Dina added. The crowd had marched to the district police command to demand an explanation for the murder, the previous day, of a man who made his living out of informal currency trading. His family claimed that the police were involved in the murder. Dina claimed that the police were already working to solve this murder. He said there had been lengthy attempts to persuade the crowd not to embark on violent action, but to no avail.

He called on citizens to respect the police authorities and the other bodies of the administration of justice, since “it is these bodies who guarantee the day-to-day safety of the public”. Dina announced that two senior officers from the General Command had gone to Mandimba to analyse the circumstances of the riot. He added that the situation in the town has now returned to normal. – AIM.

October 2017
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